Since September 2015, mobile technology has been a key tool in personalising learning and igniting enthusiasm amongst our pupils at PGS. 

During the government enforced lock down of all schools, PGS has moved all teaching and learning online, elevating the importance of our digital learning strategy.  

Although PGS has recommended iPads for digital learning, we have for a long time been careful to choose apps which are device agnostic so that pupils and parents are able to choose their preferred device; whether that be a Chromebook, MacBook, iPad or Windows 10 Laptop. The prevalent trend in IT is towards browser-accessed cloud-based platforms and software and our minimum requirements, as outlined below, will ensure that any pupil device is able to access the vast majority of the technology the school uses to facilitate teaching and learning.  

We have identified several aspects where we have capitalised on the use of pupils’ digital devices: 

  1. To support collaborative learning. 
  2. To facilitate communication between pupils and teachers including homework setting, collecting personalised feedback and rapid assessment of understanding in lessons. 
  3. To promote creativity and new approaches to pedagogy. 
  4. To provide personalised learning and assessment experiences for pupils and to assist teachers in addressing the needs of individual pupils more easily and thereby aiding differentiation. 
  5. To enhance and augment teaching and learning in ways that were previously not possible or not easy to do. 
  6. To promote engagement and motivation both in lessons and outside the classroom. 

To aid decision making for those that do not have a strong preference as to which device to choose please consider the statements below.  

* minimum recommended specifications are in a separate FAQ below; battery life is a factor to consider. 

Google Chromebook 

  • suitable for lessons. 
  • must be able to run Google Meet with an integrated webcam and mic 
  • Google G Suite for Education available via Chrome web browser 
  • Microsoft Office 365 available via web browser 
  • a touchscreen and stylus, although both desirable, are not essential 
  • a Classroom iPad will be available for iOS-specific Apps when necessary. 

IPad 

  • Suitable for lessons and Apple Apps. 
  • Google G Suite for Education available via Chrome web browser 
  • Microsoft Office 365 available via web browser 
  • a keyboard and compatible stylus are desirable. 

MacBook Laptop 

  • suitable for lessons and Apple Apps. 
  • Google G Suite for Education available via Chrome web browser 
  • Microsoft Office 365 available via web browser 
  • a touchscreen and stylus, although both desirable, are not essential 

Windows 10 laptop 

  • suitable for lessons.  
  • must be able to run Google Meet with an integrated webcam and mic 
  • Google G Suite for Education available via Chrome web browser 
  • Microsoft Office 365 available via web browser * 
  • a touchscreen and stylus, although both desirable, are not essential 
  • a Classroom iPad will be available for iOS-specific Apps when necessary. 

 
*Pupils that would like to install a full, complimentary copy of Microsoft Office 365 for the duration of their time at the school will need a Windows Laptop. 

Separately, the school is equipping staff with Windows 10 Laptops and Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite for Education via Chrome web browser. 

If parents have any technical queries with regards to the use of mobile technology, please click here to contact us. 

We want our pupils to take control of and develop independence in their learning, becoming digitally literate using technology in a way that is efficient and prepares them for the future. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Rationale

When and why was the decision made to introduce mobile devices?

In September 2015 we introduced tablet devices for all pupils in Years 9 and 12. For two years, leading up to September 2015, PGS prepared for the introduction of mobile devices by speaking with other schools and learning from their experience. We constructed a Wi-Fi network that can support and serve a large number of devices, and have also invested time and effort in educating pupils in e-safety so that they are aware of how to use mobile technology responsibly and safely. 

The feedback from staff and pupils on their use of mobile devices has been encouraging and indicates a growing desire to maximise the potential of this mobile technology. We want to put devices into the hands of pupils because a personal device offers new opportunities to motivate and engage pupils of all abilities. 

In the last three years we have surveyed pupils to establish trends in personal ownership and use of mobile devices and this has helped to determine both the timing and our choice of preferred devices. Recent events have highlighted the importance of supporting all pupils’ learning through their mobile devices. 

Are all pupils involved?

Yes, all pupils in Years 9 to 13 are expected to bring their own mobile learning device to school as a requirement of their day to day equipment. 

Pupils in Years 7 and 8 will continue to use the class sets of iPads. We are not anticipating it being a requirement, in the future, for pupils in Years 7 and 8 to have their own mobile learning device in school. This decision is being regularly reviewed in light of the latest guidance from Public Health England on social distancing measures in UK schools. 

Mobile devices in the classroom

Will mobile devices be used in all lessons?

No.  Our vision is for PGS pupils and teachers to use technology in a blended learning environment, complementing existing teaching styles by using mobile devices to enhance and in some cases transform pupils’ learning experiences. We continue to value the importance of ensuring that all our pupils, without exception, are able to read and write fluently and are fully numerate. We see mobile technology as an additional tool to continue to enhance opportunities for pupils to excel in these areas. 

How will mobile technology equip pupils with the skills they need for the future?

We want to give our pupils the life skills and understanding to be ahead of others in terms of employability and optimum working practices, we recognise that mobile technology will play an important role in this. 

Pupils at PGS need to leave the School confident that they can safely navigate the wider world in which they live and will work. Universities and businesses are expecting students and employees to be digitally literate and have a high awareness of their personal digital footprint. 

Why a personalised device for each pupil as opposed to a class set?

With every pupil in Years 9 to 13 having their own device, it means that they take ownership of the device and look after it, learn how to use it effectively and develop appropriate skills in its usage. 

Pupils will be able to personalise their device with the applications that suit their learning and option choices. 

Class sets of these devices have proved to be helpful in developing teacher skills, but they have also proved – at PGS and at other schools – to be less effective than personal ownership. Class sets also pose several problems as pupils are required to spend time personalising their logins to email and apps at the start of each lesson. This makes what should be a rapid process both time-consuming and problematic when transferring work and data. 

Can smartphones be brought to school and be used in lessons? After all what is the difference between a smart phone and a tablet?

The key difference between a smart phone and a tablet is that the former connects to the world wide web through a mobile phone network which cannot be filtered by the school. As a result, pupils’ social devices, should not be used during the school day. The school has a clearly established policy for mobile phone use whilst pupils are at school. 

Will the device be able to access the school network?

Yes. Pupils can currently access the school’s network through their mobile device and pupils will continue to be able to access the school Wi-Fi system which provides appropriate filtering. The school has a mobile device management system (VMware Workspace ONE UEM). For pupils to be able to access the wireless network with their mobile device, they will have to register it with the management system which will enable some further level of control over the device whilst in school. 

Specification, Purchase and Device care

Which device are pupils required to bring to school?

The school trialled several devices and surveyed pupils to help inform its decision. 

The iPad, Chromebook and Windows 10 Laptop devices are already used by our staff and pupils. PGS’ strategy is to remain device agnostic as we feel it best supports the school’s educational aims. 

If purchasing a new device, we recommend that parents should choose their preferred device from the three recommended. Possession of one of these will enable your child to take full advantage of our learning environment and ICT systems. 

What device specification is required?

As a minimum, the School requirements are for a device with  

  • a camera and mic 
  • the ability to access to a Wi-Fi network and 
  • a battery life that will last a full school day. 

We strongly advise against providing pupils with devices that accept a SIM card. It is not required and may result in significant, unnecessary expense, allow pupils to access the internet without passing through our internet filters thereby running the risk of breaking the school’s Acceptable Use Policy for Pupils. 
 
iPad 
We recommend any iPad that is newer than and including an iPad Air 2 (2016). We recommend that they have at least 32GB of storage and a full size screen. Any of Apple’s current range will be suitable for school use.  

 

Windows 10 laptop 
We recommend as minimum the following; 

Feature 

AMD CPU based 

    Intel CPU based 

Operating system              

Windows 10 Home or Pro 

Not Windows 10 S 

    Windows 10 Home or Pro  

    Not Windows 10 S 

Processor 

AMD Ryzen 3 

    Intel i3 

RAM 

8GB 

    8GB 

HDD 

256GB 

    256GB 

Other 

Webcam and mic 

    Webcam and mic 

 

Chromebook: 

We recommend as a minimum the following 

Feature 

     Intel Celeron N3xxx Based 

     Intel Core i3 Based 

Processor cores 

     2 

     2 

RAM 

     4GB 

     8GB 

Storage 

     16GB   

     64GB 

Other 

     Webcam and mic 

     Webcam and mic 

Are there any additional costs?

We must stress the importance of having a device case or sleeve to minimise damage. Evidence shows a sturdy case with corner protection is particularly effective in this regard and minimises interruption to learning.  

We also strongly recommend you make sure your device is insured and purchased with a warranty. 

Who pays for the apps?

PGS has identified a ‘nucleus’ of apps that may be used across all academic departments. Careful consideration has been given to these apps so that they are suitable for a range of devices and, wherever possible, are not exclusive to one type of device. These will be provided to pupils’ devices, via our mobile device management system or installed by the pupil from the relevant App store. 

Departments will identify a limited number of additional subject-specific apps that pupils will be required to download. The number of apps will be carefully monitored and controlled to ensure that the costs are limited, and the benefit of any purchase is justified. 

Pupils will be free to load up whatever apps they choose on their own device – for free or paid for by themselves. 

How best can devices be security marked?

Apple devices can be purchased with laser etching when ordered online through the Apple store.

What happens if I can’t afford a mobile device?

We want this to be an inclusive scheme and hope that no child will be excluded from the programme because of their financial circumstances.    If parents would like to discuss the possibility of assistance, they should contact the Bursar, Mr Simon Merriam, directly.

Why doesn’t the school fund the provision of devices for its pupils?

Evidence from other school studies highlights both practical and learning benefits of pupils owning their device.  Personal ownership has the advantage of removing the learning boundaries between school and home which can increase motivation and engagement.  Devices can be personalised according to subjects studied or learning needs.  All studies demonstrate that pupil-owned devices last considerably longer and are looked after far more carefully. 

Managing the use of mobile devices at school

How can pupils’ usage be managed?

The School will require all pupils to register their device using their network username and password. This is a onetime operation, once a device has been enrolled it will remain so and will auto-connect when in range of the school’s network  

  • Automatic connection when in range of the school
  • All devices (and traffic) will be identifiable by their enrolment details
  • All wireless traffic will be filtered appropriately according to the users categorisation within he school (eg, Staff, Pupil Year 7, etc. 

We would also strongly encourage parents to establish some level of control of the device at home. 

  • iPads / MacBooks, Family Sharing enables parents to exert a reasonable degree of supervision and monitoring 
  • Chromebooks, when logged in with a school account variable restrictions and apps are automatically added or updated 
  • Windows 10, enable Parental Control which allows for the creation of child accounts. The child accounts can have a number of limitations imposed upon them; software access, website access, context-menus, etc. 

Pupils have lessons on e- online safety, and we expect pupils to use the devices safely and responsibly and access to the Internet via our Wi-Fi system is filtered. The School has age appropriate filtering provided by a WatchGuard firewall. These filters will block access to any inappropriate content while the device is used on the school network (but not if they have a device which accepts a SIM card). Parents are free to determine how restrictive their child’s access is at home. We recommend that parents also use the parental controls that the device offers. Parental guidance on online safety is provided by the Designated Safeguarding Lead.  

Even though the devices are pupil-owned, the school has a responsibility to manage pupil use of the School’s Wi-Fi system, thereby ensuring safe and appropriate internet use at School. Pupils sign an ICT Acceptable Use Policy, which is countersigned by parents and instances of inappropriate behaviour when using the devices will be dealt with in much the same way as inappropriate behaviour of any other kind, according to the School’s sanctions. 

What about Internet safety?

Pupils have lessons on e-safety and we expect pupils to use the devices safely and responsibly. The School has age appropriate filtering provided by a Watchguard firewall. These filters will block access to any inappropriate content while the device is used on the school network (but not if they have a device which accepts a SIM card). Parents are free to determine how restrictive their child’s access is at home. We recommend that parents also use the parental controls that the device offers. 

Even though the devices are pupil-owned, the school has a responsibility to manage pupil use of devices through the School’s Wi-Fi system, thereby ensuring safe and appropriate use at School. Pupils sign an ICT Acceptable Use Policy, which is countersigned by parents and instances of inappropriate behaviour when using the devices will be dealt with in much the same way as inappropriate behaviour of any other kind, according to the School’s sanctions.

iTunes accounts are restricted to persons over 13 years of age. How does this affect the use of the iPad?

There is a significant amount of advice on the Apple website.  In particular, there is the Parents’ Guide to iTunes in the App Store section of the iTunes store. 

iTunes accounts are restricted to people aged 13 and over and this is one of the reasons we did not introduce devices to Years 7 & 8. Apple recommends that users aged 13 – 18 read through the terms and conditions with their parents. The use of Family Sharing enables a family to establish a group and activate different levels of access and control according to the age of the user. 

iTunes cards can be purchased.  These can be used by pupils without the need to access passwords or credit card details and may be the better choice. 

Will pupils be able to use devices outside of lessons?

When in school, the device is to be used as an educational device. Pupils will not be permitted to use their devices during break times or in public places. All pupils have a locker in which they will be encouraged to secure their device when it is not being used. Many pupils already carry mobile phones, and these should not be used during the school day. 

What happens if a pupil forgets their device or forgets to charge it overnight?

This will disadvantage the learner and be treated in the same way as not having any other item of required equipment – such as exercise or textbooks – through the Sanctions and Rewards Policy.  However, the school can charge most devices in the ICT Services department. 

Whose responsibility is it to back up data?

Developing a good routine for storing and backing up work is a valuable lesson to learn and, as these are personal devices, it will be the responsibility of the individual to back up data. 

Where are files going to be stored given that each app works independently?

Pupils will have a range of storage options and can select which best suit their needs. 

All pupils have a personal G Suite for Education account. This has free and unlimited storage to a Google Drive. Resources shared by teachers can be stored here automatically and files that pupils create using any of the Google Apps for Education will also be stored here automatically. We recommend that pupils backup their schoolwork to the storage provided as part of this account. 

Apple’s iCloud also stores files and can backup files daily from the iPad and MacBook. 5 GB is available free of charge. 
 
All pupils will have a Microsoft O365 account which provides free online storage to Microsoft OneDrive. 

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Can pupils print from a mobile device?

The need for printing is expected to decrease with the introduction of mobile devices. Pupils will be able to share any file from a mobile device via the cloud or by emailing to themselves so that they can then print from a traditional computer. 

When should updates be applied?

While it is obviously up to individual families when updates are applied to personal devices, it can be prudent to wait a few days until any potential quirks have been resolved. 

Safety and Security

What precautions can we take to minimise the chance of loss of the mobile device?

While pupils must learn to bear a large portion of the responsibility and look after their mobile device, we recommend that all mobile devices should be kept in locked lockers when not required for lessons.  In addition to this, pupils can implement some simple measures such as setting a passcode on the device, setting up an app such as Find My, or equivalent, and ensuring that the device is clearly identifiable both on the case and on the unlock screen.  Some suppliers can provide security marking which permanently attaches ownership credentials to a device. For example, Apple devices can be purchased with laser etching when ordered online through the Apple store. We also strongly encourage all families to take out an appropriate insurance policy for the mobile device. 

Will pupils be less safe if they are carrying mobile devices to school?

Many pupils currently carry valuable smart phones to school and are not under threat because of this. We would recommend that pupils follow the same sensible precautions for personal safety as they would do at any other time. 

What happens if the mobile device gets lost or damaged?

While parents will be responsible for organising the repair or replacement of damaged or lost devices, the school will have some iPad devices available for short-term loan, during the time pupils are without a device. Pupils will be responsible for damage to an iPad loaned to them by the school. 

Who is responsible if another pupil damages my child’s mobile device?

Individual pupils are responsible for their own devices and should ensure that they always take care of them. The normal disciplinary procedures apply in the event of damage to another pupil’s property. 

Will mobile devices be left in school bags when they have games, sport, after-school clubs etc.?

No. All pupils have a personal locker and must use these secure storage locations as and when appropriate. During PE and games lessons lockers have been provided with a £1 deposit mechanism both at Hilsea Playing Fields and in the Sports Hall, and we would encourage pupils to share responsibility with each other to lock valuables away during PE and Games lessons. 

However, human nature being as it is, over time we do anticipate pupils may leave mobile devices in their bags despite being advised to the contrary. As is the current advice, we suggest pupils have a small padlock on their bags to reduce theft of their belongings.   The evidence from other schools shows that pupils take much greater care of mobile devices if they are their personal property.  

Managing the use of mobile devices at home

Do we need Wi-Fi at home?

During any Government enforced school closures all teaching will be delivered remotely through the School’s virtual learning environment using G Suite for Education. As such having a suitably fast Broadband connection is a significant advantage. Those families without Wi-Fi or with concerns about network speeds should contact the school so that additional arrangements can be made.  

Does the mobile device replace the need for a laptop/desktop computer at home?

No, these devices do not fully replace a laptop or desktop for all uses. Laptops and desktops are recognised as being better for generating materials and particularly high-end tasks such as web development, animation, and desktop publishing. Desktop facilities will continue to be available at school. 

Tablets are not intended for extensive amounts of typing and as such the school will still offer pupils access to ICT Suites with desktop computers and traditional keyboards; in the same way, we expect most homes to remain equipped with a desktop and/or laptop. In addition, some pupils may choose to purchase and use a Bluetooth keyboard. 

How can I ensure my child is not using their mobile device inappropriately at home?

We recommend that you allow use of the mobile device in open and visible parts of the house only, not bedrooms. Establishing a routine where the device is checked by parents frequently is also a good idea. Wherever pupils are logged onto their school account e.g. at school or at home, the apps are restricted. Further advice will be provided in the training sessions for parents during the Summer Term. 

Will there be banned apps?

It will be for parents to decide which personal apps a pupil should have on their device, although it should be noted that some social media apps have age restrictions and parents are encouraged to adhere to these.  The School may ask a pupil to remove specific apps from their device if those apps are deemed to be being used in an inappropriate way. 

Can my children put their own personal content on the mobile device?

Yes. The mobile device is a personal device.  Pupils will install their music and games onto the device as long as its use does not impact on the space available for educational resources and apps. It will be impressed upon pupils that whilst at school the device is meant to be used for educational purposes. 

Further help

What do I do if there is something wrong with the device? Do I need to contact my supplier for repairs or will the School arrange for the problem to be fixed?

Any issues with the device should be reported to the manufacturer, or the supplier from which the device was purchased. Unfortunately, the school cannot arrange this. 

Will you be providing parent-help workshops?

Yes. We will organise introductory one-hour workshops for parents during the Summer Term. 

During the course of the seminars we will demonstrate some of the ways devices will be used. It will also be an opportunity for us to outline some of the practical considerations of introducing devices in school and for you to ask any questions that you may have. 

Further details will be shared in due course. 

What if we have other questions which are not covered here, or we don’t want to take part?

If after reading through all the details which explain what we are doing and why we are doing it, you have any further queries or concerns, please contact either: 

Mr Ben Goad 
Deputy Head (Academic) 
b.goad@pgs.org.uk 

Or 

Mr Henry Wiggins 
Deputy Head (Teaching and Education Development) 
h.wiggins@pgs.org.uk 

If you have any technical queries relating to the use of mobile technology please email us at:helpdesk@pgs.org.uk